Wildflowers Monday – Pink and green Trillium

Wandering in the woods through masses of white trillium (T. grandiflorum) at peak flowering is a privilege.Trillium grandiflorumAn even greater and exciting treat is finding its pink form – Trillium grandiflorum f. roseum and interesting green variants. The pink flower form can be usually found mixed in large populations of ‘normal’ white trilliums. Scouting for them has to be done early because later almost all of the “whites” will also turn slightly pink when fading.

Trillium grandiflorum f. roseum

Trillium grandiflorum f. roseum

Trillium grandiflorum f. roseum3Trillium grandiflorum f. roseum2

The greening of the White Trillium flowers is believed to be caused by infection with a plant pathogen belonging to the genus Phytoplasma. Phytoplasmic infections are usually confined to phloem and often result in the transformation of floral parts to leafy green structures, potentially leading to sterility of the plant. But there is more research to be done until all will be clear regarding this subject.

Trillium grandiflorum green variant1

Trillium grandiflorum – green variant No.1

Trillium grandiflorum green variant2

Trillium grandiflorum – green variant No. 2; I think ‘Green Feather’ would be a good name for it…

Trillium grandiflorum green variant3
Trillium grandiflorum – the No.3 green variant, arising from a carpet of wild-ginger leaves

I can only watch closely my variants to see how they evolve and if they’ll form fruits/seeds. There is something beautiful about their ‘infection’ ;) At least the No.3 looks very happy and thriving.


Check and skotomorphogeneticals

(Is this a catchy name, or what?)

I got into a routine to check the moist packed seeds at mid and end of the month. Because we are planning a Red seeds Sale at beginning of December (heads up) I did it yesterday. Remember the germinated Trilliums? Well, some got planted in pots and some remained in moist vermiculite, which is also a proper medium to easily check on them and take a few more pictures.

You can still read in many places that Trillium has a double dormancy but that was really old school thought. Here’s a LINK for something more up to date on what’s been called skotomorphogenetic growth (found in other species too). This concept defines germination as the point when the radicle/rhizome emerges from the seed and all the growth that follows represents the development of the seedling in the dark (from ‘skoto’ – dark in Greek).

Trillium grandiflorum seedling (late November)

Trillium grandiflorum seedling (late November) -a cute ‘skotomorphogenetic’ with a fatty, little rhizome; the cotyledons are already visible, now it needs more cooling before elongation will start. All this growth was achieved based on the energy reserves stored in the endosperm.

It makes sense. The term double dormancy puts quite a few people off from growing such species from seeds because it implies that they really take a lot of time to germinate. Furthermore, it suggests that the seeds are lying underground and nothing happens, which is not only completely false but also dangerous as you may miss providing the care that they need.

So, skotomorphogenetical it is; I just wish they would have found another name…All the other moist packed seeds are fine; in the featured image – plump, moist seeds of Paris quadrifolia (a Trillium relative, that is also called ‘double dormant’).

Watch out for Helleborus purpurascens and Actaea pachypoda f. rubrocarpa in the Red sale!

Note: one Trillium fruit can have both, seeds with dormant embryos and without – these will start germinating by fall if sown or moist storage provided. If you want all the seeds to germinate, a quick GA3 treatment will do the trick.


(DOD meaning: Dead on delivery)

I don’t know precisely if the DOD term was coined by the renowned Prof. Norman Deno but surely he reminded me of it while reading a delightful Bulletin of the American Rock Garden Society from 1991. DOD refers to the fact that seeds that require to be kept moist after collecting, when stored and/or delivered otherwise (by Seed companies or in Seed exchanges), are actually dead and there is little to expect of them in terms of germination. In his article named – Fatal Treatments of Seed he elaborates on how to kill seeds of 12 species by practicing wrong techniques of storing and/or germinating. For Trillium albidum, Fatal means: dry storage.

Same goes for many other Trillium species, and among them, Trillium grandiflorum. After collecting (see how the fruit looks when it’s ready), such seeds should be either sown right away or stored moist. When kept at room temperature, a few seeds will emerge radicles by fall. The others, like in other hypogeal germinators, will grow a radicle/baby rhizome or tuber in the coming season, and then send up the first leaf only after another cold cycle (that means in their second year).

These are a few Trillium grandiflorum seeds with emerged radicles that I found last week, during my routine check of the moist stored seeds. A few more pots were added to my collection and I am looking forward to see these little Trilliums sending up their first leaf next year! The other seeds are still in moist storage, awaiting…

Providing moist-packed seeds it is a lot of work but BotanyCa will not be responsible of any DOD’s! See all the Moist-packed Seeds from the Shop.

(If someone knows of other species that would benefit from moist storage please let me know – Contact)

Trillium grandiflorumAnd here’s the link for the ARGS Bulletin -1991 (open as a pdf). It contains great articles like: Saga of a Woodland Garden by Harold Epstein and Hepaticas and Anemonellas by Jeanie Vesall to mention just a few…

Out in the woods – thrilled about Trillium

Trilix (Latin) = having a triple thread

If nothing else about wildflowers, one image can still thrill anyone  – the white carpeting of the woodland floor when Trillium grandiflorum is flowering; in southern Ontario sometime from late April to May.  Unfortunately, our car committed suicide, so I took this picture close to home in a remnant neighbourhood forest. You’ll just have to imagine this small patch of Trillium multiplied by hundreds, as it happens in the wild wooded areas.

Trillium grandiflorum

Trillium grandiflorum – Large-flowered trillium

Not that the provincial flower of Ontario needs a description; it is all about the number 3: 3-petaled white flowers (rarely pink) with 3 green sepals above a whorl of three leaves. Usually as they age the white flowers turn light pink. Unfortunately, it goes dormant by mid-summer but after the spring display we can forgive this little shortcoming.  Sometimes, individuals with green bands on the petals can be spotted – they look interesting but it’s said to be a result of a phytoplasma infection.

Mixed in with T. grandiflorum is often Trillium erectum – Wake-robin trillium, Stinking Benjamin. It displays stunning dark-red flowers above the foliage – three pointed petals framed by 3 green or reddish green sepals. The scent of the flowers is the source for the common name Stinking Benjamin – they emit odours to attract carrion flies, which are their main pollinators.